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Appeal court upholds eight-year jail term for Maina

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The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Friday upheld the eight-year sentence imposed on the former Chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team, Abdulrasheed Maina, following his conviction on a 12-count money laundering charge.

In a unanimous decision by a three-member panel, the court said it found no reason to set aside the judgement of the Federal High Court in Abuja which found him guilty.

The court further held that there was no evidence to establish that the trial court had denied the former pension boss a fair hearing.

In the lead judgement delivered by Justice Elfreda Williams-Daudu, the appellate court resolved all the issues Maina raised before it, against him and held that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.

Justice Williams-Daudu also affirmed the various interlocutory rulings delivered in the course of the trial at the Federal High Court, which Maina appealed against.

Following this, the court dismissed the appeal as lacking in merit.

Earlier on November 8, 2021, the high court had convicted and sentenced Maina over his complicity in money laundering brought against him by the Economic Financial Crimes Commission.

In the charge marked FHC/ABJ/CR/256/2019, the anti-graft agency alleged that Maina used a bank account that was operated by his firm to launder funds and acquire landed properties in Abuja.

They serve, they steal, they get away

It told the court that the 1st defendant (Maina) used fictitious names to open and operate various bank accounts, as well as recruited his relatives who were bankers to operate fake bank accounts through which illicit funds were channelled.

The EFCC further alleged that Maina induced staff of both the United Bank of Africa, UBA, and Fidelity Bank Plc, to open accounts for him, without conducting the requisite due diligence to verify the identity of the beneficial owner.

The court found Maina and his firm, Common Input Property and Investment Limited, guilty of the crime.

Trial Justice Okon Abang held that the sentence would run concurrently with effect from October 25, 2019, which was the day the defendants were arraigned.

The justice ordered Maina and his firm to forfeit about N2.1 billion that was traced to their bank accounts, as well as other monies to the Federal Government payable within 90 days.

He then directed that the company should be wound up.

Likewise, it ordered the forfeiture of Maina’s properties at Lifecamp and Jabi districts of Abuja to the government. It also auctioned a bulletproof car and a BMW 5 Series exotic car that was found in the premises of the convict.

Justice Abang said although the law made provision for a maximum sentence of 14 years for the offence that was committed by the defendants, he was moved by Maina’s plea for mercy

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